by Jared Hegwood

Debs wants to fuck, but I'm cooking. She doesn't understand, has never understood that my cooking comes first of all things. The measure of a stew isn't in the ingredient but in the time, the cut of your vegetables, the attention paid. "I got treats," she says. "I want to. It's been a long time. And I want to do it in the new house." Debs steals things now, to get herself horny and she wants to hold what she stole during the sex. We're still working on our house. From the interstate you can see it, the bones of it. We stay here in this mousey apartment, waiting waiting waiting. I call the contractor every few days, but all I get is his daughter who tells me he's sleeping at 3 in the afternoon, working at 10 or out with his wife for breakfast. But patience, I'll remind you, is the first ingredient to any dish worth pursuing. Debs kisses at the back of my neck and I sigh as audibly as I can. She starts going through all the rooms of the new house we can fuck in, fuck around, fuck on. She describes a room for fucking. I just shave my carrots, razor-blade the garlic. I think about the house. I imagine it as grand as our bank account will allow. The living room. A den. A library. Stairs, because I've never had them. Wallpaper that I like. A garden for vegetables. She whispers in my ear about a round-faced alarm clock she swiped. Holding up my hands, palm out, "Whatever you say," I say.

Before, it was tattoos and sex. She got a bright red 1% on her back in a ring of flames that fall onto the shelf of her ass. Then her father's name, a lightning bolt and "Diabolitos." Then more. Her arms and back are a biker's Sistine Chapel. Her twin sister, Jackie, has none. When Jackie is naked, lying on a pillow, her ass in the air, I can remember why I married Debs from before. When Jackie closes her eyes and opens her mouth so wide I can see the fillings in her teeth, I can remember saying the vows I wrote for Debs. When Jackie takes off her skirt and top, wearing only the most non-descript underwear, pauses to look at me, I can remember everything. The lines of Debs. How her hair would fall. . Now, when I kiss her forearms, I'm kissing a line of spiders crawling into the bend of her arm. The whole house smells of steak and tomatoes.

Jared Hegwood has a PhD in Creative Writing from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. His work can be seen at or is forthcoming from The Adirondack Review, The Yalobusha Review, Juked, Elimae and Eyeshot, among others. He's been twice nominated for a Pushcart prize.